📸: Klavon's Ice Cream Parlor; photo courtesy of owner Jacob Hanchar.
When you step into Klavon’s Ice Cream Parlor in the Strip District, you’ll see original marble countertops, tin ceilings, revolving stools, and a wooden phone booth in the back. It’s almost like nothing has changed since James and Mary Klavon opened it as a drugstore soda fountain in 1923.
For current owner Jacob Hanchar, it’s not just one of those things that make this shop a Pittsburgh treasure. “It’s the sum of everything together that gives you the experience,” he said in an interview this week with The Incline.
He and his wife Desiree bought the parlor in the summer of 2013 after falling in love with the spot during a visit a few years earlier. Jacob took the famous Penn State Ice Cream Course to carry on the building’s sweet legacy.
But creamy treats aren't all it was known for. The building was apparently built by philanthropist Mary Schenley 1885 and used as an office building, Jacob said. Most of the stories that Jacob hears about Klavon’s history harken back to its days as an apothecary and when it was operated by James Klavon’s son, Ray, who was a physician.
“People tell stories of coming here for an appointment and getting an ice cream cone,” Jacob said. And in a news archive, Jacob recently discovered that the shop once doubled as a speakeasy during prohibition.
If you visit, don’t forget to look for the mark above the phone booth that shows the height of the floodwaters on St. Patrick’s Day of 1936. Ray and his cousins were rescued the following morning by rowboat and had to exit through the window above the booth.
If you have any historical facts, stories or memories from Klavon’s Ice Cream Parlor, hit reply. We’d love to hear from you.